PMO Accountability: Comments, Kudos and Brickbats?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

In my last column, I was hoping that the discussion of whether or not the PMO should be accountable for projects would generate some debate from the readership. In this, I was not disappointed. To those that took the time to write and express their opinions, thank you!

Like the column itself, there were a number of arguments both in favor of holding the PMO accountable for projects results as well as several insisting that this accountability was inappropriate. What was most enlightening, however, were the reasons put forward for each position.

Of the opinions that favored ensuring that the PMO was answerable to the organization for projects being delivered successfully, the most common argument put forward is that this is the function the PMO is established to perform--in essence, as the "go to" group for all things project, they own delivery and they own results. What was reassuring in this regard is that there was also a recognition that with this accountability should also come the authority necessary to take whatever actions are required to ensure delivery of these results.

The opposing arguments regarding PMO accountability cited many of the examples that were originally highlighted in the column--that the business owns the project; that the PMO is responsible for identifying problems so that action can be taken, but not for the actions themselves; and that if …

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